When a quantum system is coupled to several heat baths at different temperatures, it eventually reaches a nonequilibrium steady state featuring stationary internal heat currents. These currents imply that entropy is continually being produced in the system at a constant rate. In this paper we apply phase-space techniques to the calculation of the Wigner entropy production on general linear networks of harmonic nodes. Working in the ubiquitous limit of weak internal coupling and weak dissipation, we obtain simple closed-form expressions for the entropic contribution of each individual quasiprobability current. Our analysis highlights the essential role played by the internal unitary interactions (node-node couplings) in maintaining a nonequilibrium steady state and hence a finite entropy production rate. We also apply this formalism to the paradigmatic problem of energy transfer through a chain of oscillators subject to self-consistent internal baths that can be used to tune the transport from ballistic to diffusive. We find that the entropy production scales with different power law behaviors in the ballistic and diffusive regimes, hence allowing us to quantify what is the "entropic cost of diffusivity."
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics